Gaming industry rises to the challenge

Carson City's winning streak may have ended this summer, but there was more strategy than luck in the results that created month after month of increases in gaming win for area casinos.

Nevada's gaming industry has remained healthy because it responded to the threat of casinos on Indian lands by innovating, adapting and serving its customer base.

The Carson City-Carson Valley region went 28 straight months with increasing gaming win. That's an impressive performance over nearly two and a half years.

Part of the trend must be attributed to the explosive growth of Casino Fandango in Carson City since its opening in August 2003 and other casino expansion projects. But the streak started before that, and it held steady - proof that the local casinos weren't necessarily stealing market share from each other.

Even when the streak ended in August, the month-to-month comparison was down only a half-percent for Carson City and Carson Valley. Statewide, the numbers continue to spike. The win in August was up 9.28 percent, the 13th straight month of increases for Nevada.

The challenge of Indian casinos was a wakeup call for the industry. Las Vegas responded by cementing its unique place in the gaming world, and eventually Reno (which now has three straight months of increases) capitalized on its marketing efforts, which are driven by special events and more-than-gambling vacation themes.

Now there are signs the Indian gaming boom is leveling off. Competition is eating into the profits of successful operations, and the novelty has begun to wear off.

What's more, the Internal Revenue Service is challenging tax-free bonds used to finance some of the country's biggest American Indian resorts. The IRS says the bonds were intended for water lines and sewer plants, not golf courses, hotels and casinos.

Even without a level playing field, Nevada's gaming industry met the challenge - and thrived.


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